Symposium on Lebanon


New Delhi, August 1: Eminent columnist Praful Bidwai has expressed concern over the breach of discipline by some army officers who had publicly criticised the Lok Sabha’s condemnation of Israeli bombing of Lebanon.

Speaking at a symposium on “Israel’s Invasion of Lebanon: Implications for Global Peace” here today at Gandhi Peace Foundation. Mr Bidwai said that a policy announcement was never made in a democracy by army officers, but political leadership. He questioned the logic of the army officers who said Israel was a military supplier of India. Hence it should not be condemned.


Mr Bidwai said military sales were purely a commercial matter, and Israel had such relations with China, Pakistan and several others also. He said a NATO peace-keeping force in Lebanon would not work, nor would the US-Israeli project of disarming Hezbollah.


Of late American and Israeli commentators had been trying to introduce a Shia-Sunni angle to the invasion of Israel, arguing that it was good for the predominantly Sunni Arab world as the Shia Hezbollah would not be acceptable to Sunnis. This was pure balderdash, as speaker after speaker pointed out.


Resident editor of Delhi Asian Age Seema Mustafa, who had reported the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon from East Jerusalem, observed that what Israel and its Western sponsors had been dishing out as media coverage was pure deception and falsehood. She criticised Arab regimes as well as the Government of India for the spineless policy of obeisance to America.


Journalist Sukumar Murlidharan, an expert on the West Asia issue, said Hezbollah was no longer a mere militia. Now it represented the Lebanese national resistance movement against Israeli occupation of its territory, the Sheba Farms, which Israel had refused to vacate while withdrawing from Southern Lebanon. He said Israel had been regularly kidnapping Palestinians. Hence, the kidnap of one of its soldiers should cause no surprise, and should not have started a unilateral war.


Another area expert, Prof. AK Pasha of JNU, observed that the Israeli attack has fragmented and radicalised the whole regime and pushed the hopes for a West Asia peace farther away. The American agenda of control over the oil resources and the Israeli project of hegemony made a lethal mix, he added.


A resolution was also proposed to this effect which the audience passed unanimously with a voice vote. The resolution demanded UN economic sanctions and arms embargo against Israel. It condemned US for its support to Israel. And urged India not to shun Nehruvian legacy, Bandung principles and the will of Mahatma Gandhi.


Prof. ZM Khan, General Secretary of the Institute of Objective Studies (the organiser of the symposium), chaired the proceedings and Prof. Arshi Khan of Jamia Hamdard compered it.

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